Support – develop – empower: a framework for youth leadership at Canteen

Submitted by Georgia oa on 22 Apr 2022
22 Apr 2022

Support – develop – empower: a framework for youth leadership at Canteen 

By Pandora Patterson, General Manager - Research, Policy, & Patient Programs


Since Canteen began in 1985, youth leadership has been central to the way we work. It is a core part of our culture and is an ongoing priority in our strategic and operational plans.  

In fact, you could say youth leadership is part of our DNA – more than half of Canteen’s Board of Directors are young people impacted by cancer. All young people who choose to take up the youth leadership mantle continue to drive the organisation to new heights by guiding Canteen’s work so that the 23,000 young people impacted by cancer each year get the best possible support.  

 We’re proud to be known for authentic engagement of young people as leaders who are valued for their skills, lived experience, passion and play an instrumental role in the achievement of Canteen’s mission. We’re also committed to advocating for and supporting other organisations to incorporate youth leadership in their work. 

 Our most recent paper on this topic has just been published in Children and Youth Services Review. In this paper, we describe how we worked together with our young leaders and staff to build a youth leadership framework that supports, develops and empowers young people to take up and excel in their leadership roles. 

 The consultations that informed the framework highlighted how our leaders are “the cornerstone of the organisation” and “provide valuable insight”.  We’re continuing to evaluate this framework as part of our commitment to ensuring our work represents best practices in youth leadership. 

 You can learn more about youth leadership at Canteen here. Better still, hear directly from  ACT Young Australian of the Year and a recently-departed Canteen Board Director, Sean Dondas. He explains the youth leadership effect at Canteen in his wonderful piece about stepping into leadership.